Teking Lagoon Excursion…..

Dear F&F,
July 10, 2010
Teking Lagoon Excursion

This morning began with Scott assisting Laurel & Hardy to get unstuck from
the shallow sand where they were marooned last night. As the water depth
grew with the rising tide, Scott was able to give them a nudge with our
dinghy to steer them into deeper water & float off.

Scott later emailed the Swiss boat story to our friends Amanda & John Neal
who teach people how to sail & take them on learning cruises. They replied
that similar mayhem & rescue occurred when they were in Raratonga with them..
They are a hazard to navigation & we hope to steer clear of them & similarly
clueless boaters. Onward..

We had a terrific play day on a lagoon snorkeling excursion. Teking (aka The
King) Expeditions was recommended to us by a New Zealand guy (aka Kiwi) who
has been on vacation here in Aitutaki 9 years in a row. Despite the crowd of
8 other guests on our boat plus a full load of 10 on a tandem boat, we
enjoyed the day & camaraderie. One group was 3 Australian families with 5
teenagers on holiday. One of the Dad\’s had to ride on our boat to balance
the load. Nice guy, software engineer with the hobby of fly fishing.
Aitutaki is becoming a destination for the sport of catch & release bone
fishing, as well as kite boarding. Andrew told us he had already met 6 other
men on vacation here expressly for fly fishing. Who knew?!

Besides Andrew, on our boat was a NZ family of 5: husband, wife, 23 year old
daughter, her \”fiancée\” and 14 year old son. The Mum is taking this
engagement with a grain of salt since there is no wedding date set, he\’s
still in university & she is unemployed. Plus another young Kiwi couple. It
was a commodious group. We liked our driver, Pickam. Teking himself drove
the Aussie boat.

I slathered my finger in vaseline to help reduce \”soggy paw syndrome\”. Not
an official medical term, but the best description for what happens when I
get my still irritated right index finger wet. I did my best to keep it in
the \”up periscope\” position as much as possible when snorkeling. The water
was a chilly 78 degrees & I regretted wearing only my 3 mm wetsuit. I would
have been happier with twice that, which I do own.

It was wonderful to be back in the water & see some of our fishy friends.
They have successfully imported from Palau & Australia some giant clams
which are quite awesome to behold. An interesting native species is an all
BLUE starfish. Traditional 5 legged variety, totally harmless. What we saw
snorkeling in the lagoon was more interesting & beautiful than the sites the
dive companies go outside the reef. That is unusual & we have heard that
there are better outer reef sites here, but they are not easy to get to,
especially as it is almost always quite windy here, making for rough water
on that side of the island.

We saw one very large Crown of Thorns starfish. Even the snorkeling
operators know that they are a menace to the reef & must be disposed of.
Peckam asked Scott to gaff it. I kept my distance & gave it the finger!

We had 4 snorkeling opportunities plus walks on 2 small islets (motus) to
admire the white sandy beaches with palm trees, postcard perfect paradise.
The lunch was Dee-licious: grilled fresh wahoo with grilled slices of onion
& eggplant. A lovely display of giant clam shells were used as the bowls for
potato salad, green salad, coleslaw, watermelon and star fruit, slices of
chocolate cake & fresh grated coconut. I enjoyed every bite & rescued a
couple of the teenagers from their portion of eggplant – more for me! It is
such a luxury to eat a meal that I did not have to prepare myself.

Teking has his tourist schtick down pat. I\’m afraid even though he spoke
excellent English, as most Cook Islanders do, many of his jokes were missed
by the NZ/Oz group. Scott & I guffawed out loud & applauded him many times
on his straight-faced humor & timing. We got more bold being \”part of the
act\” as the day progressed which was fun for us. Scott was asked to say
grace at lunch. I held my breath wondering how my typically irreverent
husband would cope with this request. He simply sung out the word: \”GRACE\”
which was accepted by Teking as he invited us to partake of the buffet.

The 5 teenagers were terribly bored & any parent who thinks their 9th grader
will appreciate a tropical vacation with the parentals is hugely naive. They
sighed & posed & kept asking each other when would this day be over… They
were blatantly rude when Teking told stories about native plants & ancestral
culture. He responded appropriately by turning his back to them, effectively
excluding the rude children (& also a few rude adults) from the circle.

We intend to return to the shallow site where the clams & starfish are to
take some underwater photos. It is too hard for Scott to hold his breath,
dive under, frame the shot, focus, etc. So even for very shallow areas, if
we want photos we try to go on scuba instead of snorkel. Now that the
generator is repaired we can fill our own tanks & go.

Cindy & Scott